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Wales on four this summer

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(Pictured: Wales and Dragons lock Cory Hill)

WALES’ Grand Slam winners will be live on Channel 4 when they face England and Ireland at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in the Under Armour Summer Series this August – it was confirmed today.

The reigning 2019 Guinness Six Nations title holders host both fellow Championship opponents in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in September, with the auld enemy in town on Saturday 17th August (14:15hrs) and the Irish arriving on Saturday 31 August (14:30hrs).

Channel 4 showed their first Welsh rugby international last June when Wales beat South Africa in Washington DC, followed by a successful two-Test tour of Argentina.

The partnership will be rekindled for Wales’ Under Armour Summer Series matches, with the England game to be simultaneously shown on Sky, and it has already been announced that Channel 4 will show the final match of the campaign, at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, by virtue of their existing deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union.

“We will be delighted to welcome Channel 4 to Cardiff and join their portfolio of rugby programming this summer,” said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

“Our experience working with them during last year’s summer tour in Argentina and for the game against South Africa in USA was hugely positive and, of course, their coverage of Heineken Champions Cup rugby is highly regarded.

“These two matches will not only be the last opportunity to see Wales at Principality Stadium before we leave for the World Cup in Japan, but they are also a final send off for our head coach Warren Gatland.

“We are expecting two incredible occasions, two huge crowds and a fitting spectacle for all those watching on TV screens around the world as we celebrate the most successful coach in the history of our game and send Wales to the World Cup in no doubt that an entire nation is behind them.”

Two away games top and tail the campaign, starting with a showdown at Twickenham on Sunday 11th August (itself shown on Sky) and culminating with a trip to Dublin on 7 September.

The two matches on home soil are a Cardiff curtain call for Gatland who will move on after Japan 2019, after serving 12 years at the helm.

Currently placed second in the World Rugby rankings, Wales will also be looking to extend a record 14-match unbeaten run during their four-game RWC warm-up campaign and Gatland will trim his squad, from 42 to the 31 who will make the plane, following Ireland’s visit to Cardiff.

The Grand Slam and Gatland-factor combined is expected to produce sell-out crowds for the summer after Wales completed a unique Championship-clean-sweep-hat-trick under his tenure, lifting the Guinness Six Nations Championship in 2019 to add to triumphs in 2008 and 2012.

“We’re delighted to be working with the Grand Slam winners once again and look forward to Warren Gatland’s men laying down markers against Ireland and England. It promises to be an intriguing summer of rugby for fans of all nations ahead of the Rugby World Cup,” added Joe Blake-Turner, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor, Sport.

Approaching 100,000 tickets have been snapped up for the UA Series already and both games are expected to sell-out the 73,931 capacity Principality Stadium ground – with remaining tickets priced from £40, (£10 U16s, available across more than half the seats in the ground) still available here www.wru.co.uk/tickets.

Wales’ 2019 Under Armour Summer Series fixtures:
Wales vs England: Principality Stadium, Saturday 17 August 2019 – Kick Off: 14:15hrs. £60 (£10 U16 concession available), *£40 (£10 U16 concession available) – lower and middle tier and AFZ sold-out
Wales vs Ireland: Principality Stadium, Saturday 31 August 2019 – Kick Off: 14:30hrs. £70, £60 (£10 U16 concession available), *£40 (£10 U16 concession available) – lower tier sold-out
*Alcohol Free Zone tickets are also in this category

Wales’ away summer fixtures:
England v Wales (Twickenham) Sunday 11 August
Ireland v Wales (Aviva Stadium) Saturday 7 September

Wales in Japan, RWC 2019:
Wales v Georgia – Toyota City, 23 September, 11:15am (GMT)
Australia v Wales – Tokyo, 29 September, 8:45am (GMT)
Wales v Fiji – Oita, 9 October, 10:45am (GMT)
Wales v Uruguay – Kumamoto City, 13 October, 9:15am (GMT)

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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New Year – new start – for two seals released back into the wild

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Two grey seal pups have been returned to the wild for the New Year following months of RSPCA rehabilitation.

They were released at Port Eynon, Gower, Swansea, on 3 January as the sun rose – just days into 2021 – by  RSPCA animal rescue officer Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben – who caught the beautiful event on camera. One seal had been originally rescued from Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire – the other from Trevone in Cornwall. They were both found in distress, underweight and with injuries.

Ellie said: “This was such a lovely release – to see them both enter the sea happily where they belong with the sun rising in the distance was just glorious. It was a lovely way to start the new year.”

The seals had been transferred to the Welsh coast from RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Hastings the previous day and had spent the night at the RSPCA Llys Nini Branch seal unit.

“These two pups – nicknamed BB8 and Luke Skywaker – have been in the fantastic care of RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre who have given them the best rehabilitation over the past few months. It’s always fantastic to hear when they have put on the appropriate weight and can be released back into the wild,” added Ellie.

Ellie had been involved in the initial care of the seal rescued from Abereiddy Beach back in October.

“He was a weaned pup that had pretty much moulted out all his baby white lanugo coat, so he was fully weaned, but he was found quite underweight, lethargic and had the snotty face of a sickly pup,” she said. “He also had a lump on the top of his neck.

“He was reported to myself and Keith and we asked Welsh Marine Life Rescue (WMLR) to attend who very kindly collected him and cared for him for a few days until we were able to transfer him to the wildlife centre.

“Once again we want to thank WMLR for all their assistance, expertise and all their hard work this past season. We could not do what we do without them.”

At RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre the seal had the lump removed under anaesthetic by the vet team.

The second seal from Cornwall came into RSPCA care in November and weighed just 16.3kg. The seal had suffered a few small wounds and was a bit wheezy, with centre staff treating him for lungworm and administering antibiotics. When he left the centre the seal – who was named Luke Skywalker – weighed a healthy 40kg.

Before release, the seals were given identification tags in their hind flippers for ID purposes. The RSPCA often receives good feedback from sightings – and the scientific results received reveal that seals that go on from rehabilitation survive in the wild.

The RSPCA advises that if members of the public spot a seal on a beach that they think might need help, the best thing is to observe them from a distance and do not approach them.

Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Never try to return a seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this. It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.

It’s not unusual for a seal pup to be alone, as seal mums leave their pups very early on in life. So if the seal pup looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, it should firstly be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours.

If you see a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a busy public beach, or if you think the seal may be sick or injured, please stay at a safe distance and call the RSPCA’s advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin (but not bony) with a visible neck, like a dog.

There is more information on the RSPCA website about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone.

If you have an animal welfare concern or find an animal in distress please call 0300 1234 999.

This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands of animals from neglect, cruelty and suffering. Already this Christmas we received more than 44,000 calls to our cruelty line but the calls to our rescue line are not stopping so neither will we. To help our rescue teams continue to reach the animals who desperately need us this winter, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Winter Rescue #JoinTheRescue

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Community Midwife home for Christmas after 85 day battle with COVID-19

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SHARON GEGGUS, a community midwife from Llanelli is home for the holidays after a three month battle with coronavirus.
Sharon began to feel unwell in September, experiencing shortness of breath and a high temperature.
As these symptoms persisted and her condition began to worsen, she was admitted to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli on 16 September, with a temperature of 41°C.During her stay, she credits the support of her family and the staff at Prince Philip Hospital for helping her get through the ordeal. Speaking of her experience in hospital, Sharon says: “I was sedated for about five weeks, but I was told that the staff were playing music for me. They had contacted my family to find out what my favourite songs were, and they would play those.
“It was really hard but the hardest times I didn’t really know about – my family were the people going through it. I can’t stress how well the staff looked after me. I used the iPads provided through the hospital to keep in contact with my family and the staff would also help me phone and communicate with my family.  
“The ITU staff and the staff on Ward 9 where I went for rehabilitation were amazing. I’m a community midwife myself and I would obviously treat someone how I wanted to be treated – but they really went above and beyond.
They would sit and chat with me when I was feeling down and they made sure I was in contact with my family all the time, even letting me hang up pictures of my family on my wall.”
Sharon was clapped out of the hospital on 10 December, 85 days after being admitted. Even though she is home, the road to recovery isn’t over.
She says: “There’s still a long way to go but I’m getting there. I can get around using a walking frame and only need oxygen when I’m really moving about. It’s so nice to be home, I think you just sort of relax a bit and move around more and just feel better for being back with your family.”
Reflecting on her experience, Sharon offered this advice to others with COVID-19: “Keep in touch with your family as much as you possibly can, it’s what got me through. I wouldn’t really know what else to say, just keep positive and keep in touch with your loved ones, that’s what really helps.”
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